shrine of the hidden waters

mesquite and found bottle with water from tinaja emilia on steel. photographs of tinaja emilia printed on aluminum panel

25 cm x 54 cm

shrine of the hidden waters detail - click to enlarge

|object in private collection|

Shell trail: one of thousands of prehistoric footpaths used to convey trade goods and culture across the Papagueria — between the Sea of Cortez and the Gila River — onto the Colorado Plateau and beyond.

Shell Trails

The night sky is reflected on the earth under our feet. Our desert holds its constellations too. For more than ten thousand years, human beings have been tracing faint lines across this vast and arid landscape, one footstep at a time, from one precious star to another — tinaja to pozo, seep to spring — between shimmering pools recalled only in song.

Thousands of years have come and gone, the tinajas and springs still exist, but only the earth remembers the songs. It holds their fractured rhythms like shards of ancient pottery lying in your palm: a broken length of trail here — or maybe over there — a scattering of obsidian or shell.

These trails were preserved only in the despoblados — the harshest, driest and least visited of desert places. Places like the Sierra Pinacate and the Gran Desierto. Places that lured archaeologist Julian Hayden to begin searching for prehistoric trails in 1956. Practically every weekend, for more than 20 years, he drove from Tucson into the Pinacate. He discovered 800 miles of trail in this solitary and captivating place — mapping, cataloguing and absorbing with each step, the serenity of the land and the compelling stories of the first Pinacateños.

This object was on display @ Tohono Chul Gallery in the exhibit :: Metal, Stone & Wood in Tucson, Arizona from June 1 to September 1, 2013

This object was included in my solo exhibition :: chasing julian at the WEE Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, February 2013.

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